The Republic of Ireland could be without the captain, Robbie Keane, for Friday's World Cup qualifying tie against Germany, making the task that confronts Noel King in his first game as caretaker manager even more daunting.
Keane did not train on Thursday night at the RheinEnergieStadion because of an ankle problem and King said that it was prudent to stand him down, see how the injury settles overnight and make the final decision on Friday morning.
If he is unavailable the manager said that his options for what will most likely be the lone-striker role in a 4-5-1 formation would come down to Shane Long, Kevin Doyle and Anthony Stokes. Keane is Ireland's record scorer with 60 goals in 129 appearances.
"Robbie has a bit of a problem with his ankle – he got a kick in training," King said. "It's something that has come and gone over the last few months. It's a worry. We'll make the decision in the morning. We'll know straight away. Robbie has been one of our leading lights, one of the leading scorers in Europe, and if he doesn't make it we won't be happy. But we'd get on with it."
King, in interim charge as the Football Association of Ireland casts around for a long-term successor to Giovanni Trapattoni, who was sacked last month, admitted that the past couple of weeks have been a "whirlwind" and he added that he has not had the time to be nervous.
But it would be a sensation if Ireland could get a result against a Germany team who need one point to secure automatic qualification for the finals next summer. King is without Richard Dunne and John O'Shea through suspension and although Germany are missing nine players because of injury, their strength in depth runs somewhat deeper.
Germany's missing players are Marco Reus, Lukas Podolski, Marcel Schmelzer, Ilkay Gündogan, Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Holger Badstuber and the Bender twins, Lars and Sven.
"I always back Germany in every competition," King said, which drew a laugh and prompted a little clarification. "But not tomorrow … I didn't mean financially there. I meant 'back' as in 'support.' "
Keane's struggles have perturbed his manager at Los Angeles Galaxy, Bruce Arena, who had already asked King to spare the player in Tuesday's final qualifier against Kazakhstan in Dublin. King refused the request but he said that Keane would only have a pain-killing injection to help him face Germany if they had the Galaxy's blessing. Ireland's World Cup hopes realistically ended last month with the defeats to Sweden and Austria.
"We are hoping that Robbie will be ready for tomorrow and if not we are hoping he will be ready for Tuesday," King said. "There is no question about him going home. He is desperate to play. They all are."
Ireland's Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney said: "Upsets have happened before. West Brom got a result at Manchester United. It's a possibility. We have a gameplan and if we stick to it, who knows what could happen? We are not a bad side either."
Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Mertesacker, Boateng, Jansen; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Müller, özil, Schürrle; Kruse.
Republic of Ireland (4-5-1): Forde; Coleman, Kelly, Delaney, Wilson; McGeady, McCarthy, Gibson, Whelan, Pilkington; Stokes.